Brescia alumna and international human rights activist to receive honorary degrees at Western’s 307th Convocation

June 16, 2016

London, ON – On June 16th and 20th, Brescia University College will host Dr. Stephanie Atkinson, ’68 and international human rights activist, Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay. Both women will be amongst sixteen distinguished individuals who will be recognized with honorary degrees at Western’s 307th Convocation.

On June 16th at 10:00 a.m., Dr. Stephanie Atkinson will be conferred the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Brescia alumna Dr. Stephanie Atkinson is an internationally recognized leader and world-class researcher in the field of bone metabolism of preterm infants and children with bone disorders. Currently a Professor at McMaster University in the Department of Pediatrics, and an Associate Member of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Atkinson has dedicated much of her career to developing the next generation of prominent medical researchers. Dr. Atkinson’s scientific expertise is highly sought after. She was appointed to the inaugural Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and was the first Canadian elected President of the American Society for Nutrition in 2006. In recognition of her significant contributions to the field of pediatric nutrition, Dr. Atkinson has received a number of awards and accolades, including the McHenry Award from the Canadian Society for Nutritional Sciences and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee. In 2012, as a dedicated and accomplished Brescia alumna, she was also awarded the Carmelle Murphy Alumnae Award of Distinction from Brescia University College.

On June 20th at 3:00 p.m., at Brescia’s Convocation ceremony, Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay will be conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Growing up in Canada after escaping an uncertain future in Iran, from a young age, Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay knew not to take her freedom and good fortune for granted. Always motivated to serve others, Ms. Afshin-Jam MacKay raised awareness for a variety of socially vital initiatives as a young woman. In 2006, she initiated the year-long Save Nazanin Fatehi Campaign in efforts to save the life of 17-year-old Nazanin Fatehi from facing unjust execution in Iran. She then became the co-founder and President of Stop Child Executions, a non-profit organization that aims to permanently end the executions of minors in Iran, co-authored The Tale of Two Nazanins and established The Nazanin Foundation to help women in need and support the empowerment of girls worldwide. Today, she continues to work tirelessly to advance human rights at a global level through her media appearances and public speaking. In recognition of her humanitarian efforts, Ms. Afshin-Jam MacKay has received numerous awards, including the Human Rights Hero Award by UN Watch in 2009 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013. In addition to her dedicated humanitarian service, Ms. Afshin-Jam MacKay is a recording artist, actor, former Miss World Canada (2003) and mother of two.

“At Brescia, we prepare our graduates to lead with wisdom, justice and compassion in a changing world,” says Dr. Donna Rogers, Brescia Interim Principal. “Dr. Stephanie Atkinson and Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay truly embody this mission, and set a fine example for our students as remarkable women leaders. We are thrilled to host these extraordinary women on campus and celebrate their diverse accomplishments. ”

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 For more information please contact:

Colleen Aguilar, Director Communications and Marketing at 519-432-8353, ext. 28293 or at, or Caitlin Core, Communications & External Relations Officer at 519.432.8353, ext. 28280 or at

Brescia University College, Canada’s only women’s university college, is affiliated with Western University. The 1,550 women registered as either full- or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in the schools of Behavioural & Social Sciences, Food & Nutritional Sciences, Humanities, and Leadership & Social Change in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic University College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity.